The Logic of the Moment

So World War I, right? A seemingly insane moment in history when well-developed, sophisticated cultures dissolved themselves in a sea of blood for a reason nobody could fully explain.

From a historical distance, though, we do know what happened. The old, unwieldy empires of the Habsburgs, the Romanovs and the Hohenzollerns were standing in the way of modernity, so modernity had to get rid of them. It was the time of old aristocracies being removed from power. And the aristocracies cooperated.

It wasn’t a conspiracy. Nobody got together and planned this. But the logic of the moment demanded it and it happened. There are times in history where big, enormous changes need to happen. And we all start spurring them along. Today, we are experiencing a transformation in the form of governance, an introduction of a new economic system, a digital revolution – so many things. It’s a very big change. And we are all dismantling the old and bringing in the new.

This is hard to understand because one of the ways in which we have prepared for this huge change is to learn to see everything in terms of an all-powerful individual will. If something is happening, then there have to be individuals who decided it and forced everybody else to participate. But these are the blinders we put on ourselves.

At least, you know, we aren’t gassing each other in the trenches like those poor bastards a hundred years ago. We are locking ourselves up and turning out cities into a wasteland of shuttered businesses and roving gangs. And fifty years from now, a tenured history professor at Harvard will tell the students about how we dismantled our well-developed, sophisticated culture in a seemingly suicidal manner that made sense in the logic of the moment.

4 thoughts on “The Logic of the Moment”

  1. “The old, unwieldy empires of the Habsburgs, the Romanovs and the Hohenzollerns were standing in the way of modernity, so modernity had to get rid of them.”

    Your materialism is showing? Base determines superstructure??

    I’d emphasize instead (a) structural issues and miscalculations in relation to the balance of military power within the international system and (b) most especially in the rising popularity within Europe’s governing elites of late 19th century ideas of social Darwinism and biological determinism. “Might is at once the supreme right, and the dispute as to what is right is decided by the arbitrament of war,” wrote a German General in 1911. “War gives a biologically just decision, since its decisions rest on the very nature of things.”

    Like

    1. It’s one of those situations where you keep wondering, “But where’s the joke? It’s exactly what’s happening.”

      Parody has been substituted by realistic descriptions of the situation.

      Like

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